Question: I Have Heard That Children Become Addicted To Pain Medications More Easily Than Adults. Is This True?
Answer: Well, let's be clear about what we mean by addiction. Addiction is a psychological phenomenon where a patient takes more medicine than they actually need. And then they become obsessed with taking more medicine, and obtaining more medicine, even when they're having serious side effects and maybe making them ill. We know from treating chronic pain in adults and in children that addiction is rare in adults, and it's extremely rare in children.
What is not rare is physical dependence. Physical dependence is when the body adjusts to a certain type of medication at a certain level. And this means that you can't just suddenly take it away. It needs to be gradually weaned away and taken back such that the body can adjust to its absence. We know that physical dependence occurs with other medications, not just narcotics and things like that, but medications such as steroids.